Warning: certain parts of this blog post may make you feel extremely squiffy.
Intrepid researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have discovered a way to make you feel like throwing up in your mouth — a lot.
Mbemba Jabbi and colleagues are interested in knowing if reading about something can cause you to feel a realistic emotion. Previous studies have shown the same regions of the brain that are activated when we experience a strong emotion such as delight, pain or disgust are activated when we watch someone experience the emotion. And as it turns out, the anterior insula and adjacent frontal operculum, (known to hipster neurologists as the IFO and generally acknowledged as the sexiest part of the brain) are also ignited like a million tiny pinpricks of putrescence when we read.
The sadistic Dutch researchers decided to focus on the emotion of disgust, presumably because it was cheaper and easier to gross people out than make them feel good (they revered to it as the “Jackassilization Effect”).
After placing quinine and dog turds on the tongues of the 12 grad students who “volunteered” for the experiments — the disgusting taste definitely lit up the sexy IFO — they moved onto prose. Their selected text (and no, it wasn’t one of Dr. Tundra’s lesser known ramblings about his last peyote bender), also caused them to be disgusted, especially Jan (pronounced Yawn, which is exactly what he did in Technicolor). Now, for the titillation of your own IFO, you can experience the very same text:
You turn around because someone is leaning on your shoulder, suddenly looking into the open mouth of a drunken beggar… you see his rotten teeth, surrounded by pustulant sores, while he suddenly releases the reeking content of his stomach all over you… You feel your stomach turn over as you suddenly feel the acidic taste of a clump of his vomit on your lips.
According to the New Scientist: “The team suspects that reading about delight or pain also activates similar converging networks in the brain. ” I’ve already sent in my note to volunteer for the “delight” experiments, because I’ve heard the “real life” tests will be held in Amsterdam.